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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 SEPTEMBER 2019

Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 SEPTEMBER 2019


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


 

Topic: Social Issues, Urbanization, their problems & remedies .Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

1) Explain the significance “Affordable Housing for All” in the economic development and well-being of India.  (250 words)

The hindubusinessline

Why this question:

Cumulative number of Houses Sanctioned Under PMAY(U) are now more than 90 Lakhs. Thus making it important from exam point of view to analyse the significance of housing for all.

Key demand of the question:

The question is direct and one must discuss the significance “Affordable Housing for All” in the economic development and well-being of India.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define what is meant by housing for all.

Body:

Discuss in what way Food, cloth and housing are the basic necessities of any individual. How Affordable housing improves well-being of an individual and a country.

Elucidate on how Affordable housing helps in human development, how it helps in Economic Development.

What are the mechanisms available from the government side for the same and what are the challenges involved?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward and importance of housing for all for the overall development of the country.

Ans:

The 21st century is called the urban century because for the first time, since dawn of civilization, more people are residing in urban India than in rural areas. The most important problem in all cities has been housing due to sudden and large scale influx of migrants from rural areas to urban areas. Because of the housing shortage in every city almost fifty percent of the population lives in slums. Whilst the overall population growth has declined over the last decade, urban population growth continues to be almost twice the annual national population growth rate.

 

Further, the urban share of the GDP is projected to increase to 75 per cent in 2031 from an estimated 62-63 percent in 2009-2010 (The High Powered Expert Committee (HPEC), 2011), Consequently, there is a dire need to improve the quality of life in our cities and to address the current and anticipated future shortage of housing along with other infrastructure deficit issues prevalent in our urban centers.

 

The government estimated the total urban housing shortage at 18.78 million units in the 12th year plan (The Technical Group on Urban Housing, 2011). Within these 18,78 million units, the housing shortage amongst the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and the Lower Income  Group (LIG) is extraordinarily high with a 96 per cent share of the total shortage.

 

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), or Affordable Housing for All Mission is divided into two parts:

 

  • PMAY (Gramin), which comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Rural Development and
  • PMAY (Urban), which falls under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  • The target for PMAY is to build approximately 1.2 crore affordable homes in urban centers by the year 2022 in 4 years.
  • PMAY has already quadrupled the number of affordable house sanctioned when compared to the previous 10 years of JNNURM.

 

Embracing Urbanisation:

Today, while agriculture continues to employ over 40 per cent of India’s workforce, its contribution to India’s Gross Value Added has fallen to 16.4 per cent.  On the other hand, the contribution of services has significantly increased, and is today at 55.2 per cent.  By its very nature, the services sector resides in urban areas. Given the growing aspirations of India’s citizens, they would seek employment in services, and thereby seek out urban centres. It is estimated that by 2030, almost 600 million Indians or 40 per cent of India’s population will live in Indian cities. Given this demographic shift in India, Elements of Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) titled “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, were incorporated by India in its development efforts and plans even before the SDGs and the 2030 developmental agenda were formally adopted by the United Nations in 2015.

 

What is an affordable house?

 

Under PMAY(U), an affordable house goes beyond the construction of four walls using bricks and cement. A PMAY (U) home, by its very definition, must have a functioning toilet, an electricity connection, a tapped water connection, and door waste collection, the title of a PMAY (U) home can be registered under the lady of the house, or co-jointly through a PMAY(U) home, families have access to all amenities that will allow them to lead a life of dignity, security and prosperity.

 

PMAY(U) Implementation:

The implementation of PMAY(U) is undertaken through four verticals:

  • In-situ slum redevelopment.
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP).
  • Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS).
  • Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC).

 

A – In – situ slum redevelopment (ISSR)

This uses land as a resource. The scheme aims to provide houses to eligible slum dwellers by redeveloping the existing slums on public/private land. A grant of INR 1 lac per house is provided by the central government to the planning and implementing authorities of the states/UTs under this scheme.

 

B – Affordable housing in partnership (AHP):

This aims to provide financial assistance to private developers to boost private participation in affordable housing projects; central assistance is provided at the rate of INR 1.5 lac per EWS house in private projects where at least 35 percent of the houses are constructed for the EWS category.

 

C – Credit – linked subsidy scheme (CLSS):

This scheme facilitates easy institutional credit to EWS, LIG and MIG households for the purchase of homes with interest subsidy credited upfront to the borrower’s account routed through primary lending institutions (PLIs). This effectively reduces housing loan and equated monthly installments (EMI).

 

D – Beneficiary – led construction or enhancement (BLC):

This scheme involves central assistance of INR 1.5 lakh per family for new construction or extension of existing houses for the EWS/LIG.

Holding period for capital gains tax for immovable property reduced form 3 years to 2 years.

Indira Awaas Yojana will be extended to 600 districts.

Through these verticals, the Mission covers the entire canvas of affordable housing -from the slum dweller living in the most inhumane conditions; to those belonging to the economically weaker sections and middle income groups who need affordable banking finance; and to those belonging to the economically weaker sections and middle income groups who need affordable banking finance; and to those who own a piece of land, but require additional funding to build their house.

 

PMAY (U) makes a significant departure from previous top-down models. The Mission trusts the judgment of the beneficiary to make the most optimal decisions, based her needs.

 

PMAY(U) is one of several flagship programmes, which is anchored in, and thriving under, the cooperative federalism model. Under PMAY(U), the state governments themselves accord these approvals, with only minor suggestions, if any, made at the central level.

 

Under the scheme, government has announced that an interest rate of only 4 per cent would be charged on loans above Rs 9 lakh and 3 per cent on amount above Rs 12 Lakhs. However, there is ambiguity whether those not falling under EWS (Economically Weaker Section) or the LIG (Low Income Group) segments would be the beneficiaries. More projects will now be eligible for profit-linked income tax exemptions.

 

Government as Catalyst:

In the budget for 2017-18, affordable housing was given infrastructure status.

The budget for 2018 -19 institutionalized an Affordable Housing Fund under the National Housing Banks, to boost financing in the sector.

In addition to these, measures, Section 80-IBA of the Income Tax now provides for 100 percent deduction of profits for Affordable Housing Projects, to encourage private participation in the mission.

 

Way forward:

  • The Swachh Bharat or Clean India Mission has today become a Jan Andolan, or a social movement. Its emphasis on ODF seeks to not only build the requisite number of toilets, but bring about behavioral change in the country.
  • The 500 cities under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which will have universal water supply coverage and improved sewage networks, will further improve the quality of life of those living in affordable homes.
  • Under the Smart Cities Mission, the 99 cities selected have had extensive citizen engagement to ensure those living in affordable homes too have an equal say in the development of their city.
  • Estimates suggest for India to meet its urban demand, the country will have to build 700 to 900 million square meters of residential and commercial space every year till 2030. To put this in perspective, between now and 2030, India will have to build a new Chicago every year, if it has to meet its citizen demand for urban living.
  • Given this context, the success of PMAY(U) needs to be viewed in conjunction with entire gamut of planned urbanization underway in the country.

The PMAY(U) epitomizes the seismic shifts taking place in our urban centres and the efforts that are being made to make Indian cities best in their class.

 


 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

2) Why is Chabahar Port important to India? Discuss in detail its geopolitical significance.(250 words)

Economictimes

Why this question:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met along the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s 74th session in New York.

The leaders especially mentioned operationalization of Chabahar Port and noted its importance as gateway to and for the landlocked Afghanistan and the Central Asian region.

Key demand of the question:

One has to bring out the significance of Chabahar port to the geopolitics of the region.

Directive:

DiscussThis is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In short discuss the context of the question.

Body:

Start by explaining few facts about Chabahar port. 

Discuss in brief the India-Iran historic ties.

Explain the geopolitical significance of the port, India’s stakes.

What are the possible challenges?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward with emphasis on the role India got to play.

Ans:

 

Chabahar port is a seaport located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port and consists of two ports Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti and ten berths.

 

Significance of the port for India

  • Chabahar Port is of particular significance to India because of its location as it is the only oceanic port of Iran that can be accessed from the western coast of India bypassing Pakistan.
  • In short, it is an unobtrusive gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Pakistan denies overland transit facility to India through its soil and India’s commerce with Afghanistan and Central Asia gets hampered. Herein lays the elevated strategic importance of Chabahar port for India as it can open new frontiers of engagement with the region bringing in shared prosperity.

 

Geo-Political Importance

  • Chabahar s geopolitical significance rises considerably as it is also a gateway to INSTC (International North-south Transport Corridor).
  • It will boost India’s presence in the region and hence this strategic project has been pursued by India in the right earnest.
  • Chabahar port will also act as a check for increasing Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea as China is heavily involved in the construction of the Gwadar, a deep sea port in the Balochistan area of Pakistan. The location of Chabahar and Gwadar ports in close vicinity of each other underlines the intense competition between India and China in the region with Pakistan siding with the Chinese. India’s spirited efforts in development of Chabahar port underscores the point that on the strategic chessboard of geopolitical competition India is not to be left far behind.
  • The chances of an extension of ties to Indian Iran military cooperation is also possible and will be highly beneficial to counter Chinese navy in the Indian ocean too.

Economic Importance

  • Costs of imports of products like iron ore, oil, sugar, and rice to India will be significantly lowered. A study commissioned by the Ministry of Commerce has found that cost of imports via Chabahar port along with INSTC is 30% cheaper than those via Mediterranean-Suez route.
  • Economic ties between India and Afghanistan which were in limbo due to political uncertainty will significantly improve once Chabahar is completely operationalized. India will link Chabahar port to Zaranj-Delaram highway in Afghanistan and is keen on developing a rail link there with the cooperation of Iran.
  • India will also be developing various industries (aluminum and urea plants) in the Chabahar Economic Zone.

Diplomatic Importance

  • Chabahar port can be used by India to launch humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and also in Horn of Africa regions.
  • The Zaranj-Delaram highway constructed by India can be a access point to four major cities in Afghanistan namely Kabul, Heart, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-sharif which can be accessed via the Garland highway in Afghanistan.
  • Keeping this geostrategic significance India s transport minister Shri Nitin Gadkari has termed the port as ‘a gateway to golden opportunities’.

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

3) Providing basic needs as well as freedoms to the people shall go hand in hand for the holistic development of the country. Elucidate. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The question ascertains the necessity of basic needs and its interrelation with right to freedom.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must analyse the need for individual freedom along with basic needs for the holistic development of the country.

Directive:

ElucidateGive a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief discuss what basic needs of an individual in a society are.

Body:

In brief, discuss the basic needs of the people with an emphasis on the recent initiative taken by the government to provide basic needs. 

The freedoms that are to be given to an individual – freedom of speech, expression, etc. 

The importance of both in developing an individual. 

Discuss the impact of providing basic needs at the cost of freedoms and vice-versa. 

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Ans:

 

India’s population has been pegged at 1.3 billion. The composition of the population clearly indicates a large working age group (15-59 age group), hence we may be called “Young India” at present. However, what is also present in the composition is the poverty levels, education levels, unemployment levels, etc., which clearly point out the need for more human development efforts for India.

 

The idea that the quality of life people enjoy in a country, the opportunities they have and freedoms they enjoy, are important aspects of development, is not new. They were first time clearly spelt out by two South Asian Economists, Mahbub-ul-haq and Amartya Sen.

 

The work of Amartya Sen holds significance in this context; Amartya Sen.’sx` work on ‘Capability approach’ to human development provides that building human capabilities in the areas of health, education and access to resources is the key to increasing human development. Therefore, providing freedoms merely self-sufficient if the individual is not capable. He discusses that making the individuals capable, that is, by providing them the basic needs, only makes them capable to utilizing their freedoms.

 

The Constitution of India itself stands on the bedrock of balance between DPSP’s and our Fundamental Rights as mentioned by the Supreme Court. Hence, it signifies that both welfare and freedoms go hand in hand for the better functioning, progress and development of India.

 

It is also important to understand that the basic needs of humans may increase as time progresses and hence, so would freedom. For instance, just recently, Kerala High Court declared that Right to Internet Access is a fundamental right under Article 21: Right to Education under constitution.

 

Also, with the above example, one can understand that freedom to internet access is merely of significance to someone without the access to internet.


Topic:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

4) The increase in global temperatures and the associated natural disasters will make millions of people climate refugees. Analyse the statement in the light of recently released IPCC report on  Ocean and Cryosphere and suggest the way forward.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question:

The latest report, on Ocean and Cryosphere, is the last in a series of three that the IPCC had been asked to produce to assess the impacts of climate change on specific themes.

Key demand of the question:

The answer should bring out the highlights of the latest IPCC report and significance of the urgency to curb global warming to mitigate the effects of climate change and disasters occurring due to it.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. 

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief explain how the recent report has given further strength to growing demands for more aggressive climate action from world leaders, especially those representing the big emitters.

Body:

Explain that the latest report, on Ocean and Cryosphere, is the last in a series of three that the IPCC had been asked to produce to assess the impacts of climate change on specific themes. The first of these, examining the feasibility of restricting global rise in temperatures to within 1.5°C from pre-industrial times, was submitted in October last year.

Discuss the highlights of the report in detail.

What are the issues and challenges world is facing on climate front? And what should be done to overcome?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Ans:

Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made public ‘The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ which underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers, and ice-deposits on land and sea at the United Nations Climate Summit underway in the United States. Climate change impacts on homes and infrastructure, food and water and human health. It will bring about a forced migration on an unprecedented scale.

 

Key Findings of the Report:

  • Over the 21st century, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions with increased temperatures, further ocean acidification, marine heat waves and more frequent extreme El Niño and La Niña events.
  • Ocean Warming: Global Ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system.
  • Since 1993, the rates of ocean warming and marine heat waves have very likely doubled in frequency and intensity.
  • Global Mean Sea-Level: It has increased by 16 cm between 1902 and 2015, and that the rate of increase had doubled of late.
  • Between 2006 and 2015, the global mean sea level recorded an average rise of 3.6 mm per year, which was more than double of 1.4 mm per year recorded in the first 90-year-period of the 20th century.
  • Sea-level rise is not globally uniform and varies regionally. Regional differences, within 30 % of global mean sea-level rise, result from land ice loss and variations in ocean warming and circulation
  • The Melting of Glaciers: Between 2006 and 2015, the Greenland ice sheet lost ice-mass at an average rate of 278 billion tonnes every year (e.g. Okjokull glacier of Iceland), which was enough to result in a global sea-level rise of 0.8 mm per year. During the same period, the Antarctic ice sheet lost a mass of 155 billion tonnes on an average every year.
  • Snow cover outside these two poles, like the glaciers in the Himalayas, together lost an average of 220 billion tonnes of ice every year.
  • The melting glaciers are the dominant source of sea-level rise, exceeding the effect of thermal expansion of ocean water (due to rising temperatures).
  • Since the mid-20th century, the shrinking Cryosphere has led to predominantly negative impacts on food security, water resources, water quality, livelihoods, health, and well-being, as well as the culture of human societies, particularly for Indigenous peoples.

Climate-related displacement and migration is set to be the greatest challenge of our era. While there is a general consensus that global warming impacts us all, the role it will play in future human migration is often underestimated. Climate change disproportionately impacts developing countries, and more specifically fragile states.

Communities in arid and semi-arid lands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Exposure to extreme temperature irregularity and rapid rainfall fluctuations makes these communities more prone to recurring drought or flooding.

What needs to be done?

Creating innovative finance mechanisms – The current humanitarian finance system is reactive and in desperate need of reform. As humanitarian crises become more complex, the demand for funding is struggling to keeping up with the supply available.

The global humanitarian funding requirement for 2019 was a record $21.9 billion and is expected to increase further. By 2030, humanitarian assistance costs are estimated to almost double in one decade by rising to an annual rate of $50 billion, if current trends continue.

The issue is that, as crises become more protracted, the coordinated response rate also rises. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the average UN coordinated humanitarian response rate is currently nine years – this is up from the average length of 5.2 years recorded in 2014.

With the continuation of crises, multi-year funding is needed to help close the gap. The scope for non-traditional innovative sources of finance is enormous. Creating financial solutions to reach more of those at the bottom of the pyramid would be a major contribution to addressing this pressing issue and helping build local resilience.

In the past couple of years, we have had green bonds that have been issued globally to fund climate-friendly projects and, more recently, a humanitarian impact bond that helped fund the building and operation of physical rehabilitation centres in Nigeria, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Why can’t we have a financial instrument, embedded with humanitarian principles, that addresses climate-induced humanitarian problems?

Prioritizing gender- Climate change induced migration is adding a new layer of complexity to the area of gender, as women and girls are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change impacting education, maternal health and gender-based violence. In cases of climate change disasters, such as droughts, girls are more likely to be withdrawn from school, as women and girls are often in charge of water collection. In Africa alone, it is estimated that 17 million women and girls collect water every day.

With climate change disrupting their education, young girls are reportedly being taken out of school to marry early, creating a worryingly higher number of “child brides”. The repercussions have a profoundly negative impact on a young girl’s mental, physical and overall wellbeing.

As for health, 60% of all preventable maternal deaths take place in settings of conflict, displacement or natural disasters, because women and adolescent girls cannot access critical health care.

Furthermore, in situations of climate change disasters, there is clear evidence that shows an increase in sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls both during and after disasters.

The time has come to integrate a gender perspective into the climate change agenda by putting women and girls at the centre of design and decision-making. Gender-sensitive policies must be identified and prioritized to help build resilience to climate-induced disasters.


Topic:   Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

5) Can India Achieve the UN Goal Of Gender Equality By 2030? What are the steps and measures that can be taken on-ground to determine the way forward?(250 words)

Reference

Why this question:

A report compiled by Equal Measures 2030, found that not a single country is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030; India ranked 95th out of 129 countries. Thus makes it important for us to analyse the UN goal of gender equality by 2030.

Key demand of the question:

One has to elucidate on the progress being made by India on gender equality front. Discuss the challenges and concerns associated while suggesting way forward.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief throw light on the UN goal of gender equality by 2030.

Body:

Since gender inequality constitutes one of the history’s most persistent and widespread forms of injustice, eliminating it will call for one of history’s biggest movements for change. Women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.

Explain the Indian scenario. 

Why is gender equality important? Its relationship with development of the country?

UN Goal 5 and India – quote facts and explain the current status of India.

Discuss solutions on this front.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need for holistic and multi-pronged approach.

Ans:

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

A report compiled by Equal Measures 2030, found that not a single country is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030; India ranked 95th out of 129 countries. To achieve gender equality, models and solutions need to create an enabling environment targeting gender inequality, especially gender-based violence (GBV). This creates equal access to opportunities and resources for women and girls in India. Effective programs have put women at the centre of the programming.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation noted that 25% of recorded cases under crimes against women are related to sexual assault. Violence functions as a mechanism to maintain existing power inequalities, especially to subjugate women. Gender-based violence (GBV) is founded in this unequal power-relations between men and women. It prevents women from achieving their full potential. But GBV cannot be attributed to any single factor. Therefore, strategies to prevent gender-based violence must be grounded in programmes and interventions that promote gender equality as the ultimate goal.

 

India scored 56.2 out of 100 in the study that led to the report, with 100 being absolute gender equality. Our country is not alone in falling short—none of the UN member states is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. Moving beyond binaries, India has a long way to go in terms of mainstreaming equality for all.

 

However, there is good news. Different legislative acts enable safety, security and justice such as POSH—which is the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and more. The role of civil society becomes critical to witness the realization of the goal and subsequently, better ranking in the Gender Index.

 

What are the steps and measures that can be taken on-ground to determine the way forward?

 

Only 25.5% of women participate in the workforce compared to 53.3% of males. The approach to achieving gender equality and therefore providing space for girls and women to fulfill their aspirations, requires an ecological framework that promotes gender equality at the heart of every design, be it policy or programme. It needs to address the complex interplay of factors that operate at the individual, relationship, community and greater societal level. Besides, women are not a homogenous group. Intersecting social identities such as sexual orientation, gender identity, caste and socio-economic status render some women even more vulnerable to violence. This necessitates a nuanced and holistic approach to preventing gender-based violence.

 

The approach can be translated on-ground to create sustained solutions in varied ways:

 

  • Increasing women’s economic independence through improving financial literacy, access to financial services and assisting women to develop their employment prospects.
  • Working with vulnerable populations to enable the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Skill development through life skills education for low-income women equipping them with knowledge, skills and an understanding of their rights and entitlements enabling them to manage their lives better.
  • Working on challenging socially constructed gender norms rooted in patriarchy that result in harm to all genders binary and non-binary (LGBTQAI+).
  • Improving the prevention of violence and violence response systems through community-based mechanisms and concerted sensitisation mechanisms.
  • Supporting the meaningful involvement of women and men affected by gender-based violence in the design and delivery of services and the advocacy and policy response through the provision of technical assistance.

It is essential to not only ensure women and girls are free from violence but that they have the agency, autonomy and self-determination to reach their potential and lead lives they value. But it cannot be done with a single solution.

 

Factory-based supported programmes like HERrespect, Women in Factories etc., with brands and their supply chain factories focus on the development of a gender-sensitive work environment and robust workplace systems to address women’s issues, including sexual harassment and discrimination.

Conclusion:

When we collaborate across the board with every stakeholder to combine different approaches to provide an intelligently designed holistic solution, we arrive at the cusp of a breakthrough, making on-ground implementation smoother and robust.

Ongoing campaigns in the media and concerted efforts at policy and legislature echo the sentiment of pushing through for a gender-equal world. Together, these, along with a plethora of micro approaches and varied collaborations, hold the promise of ecology where women and girls thrive.

Empowering women does not just benefit her as an individual but her entire community. The United Nations states the economic impact of achieving gender equality in India is estimated to be U.S. $700 billion of added GDP by 2025.


Topic:  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

6) Artificial Intelligence is the new oil, the new factor of production. Like the industrial revolution, it will transform every sector. Elucidate with subsequent examples.(250 words)

Downtoearth

Why this question:

Technology is the key to build a thriving, resilient world, especially in India where high mobile penetration and the government’s digital initiatives can work in tandem to bring a sustainable and affordable transformation for societal needs.

Key demand of the question:

The question is straightforward and aims to discuss the importance of AI and in what way it is a revolution to be witnessed soon.

Directive:

ElucidateGive a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

 

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief define AI.

Body:

Explain the evolution of AI, its significance. Discuss in what way connectivity and innovation in technology are transforming how organizations and governments operate.

With suitable examples explain how technology can aid development and help address issues of governance and turn it into good governance.

Discuss the associated concerns and challenges and in what way they can be addressed.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable examples and on a positive note.

Ans:

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)AI is the science of building computers that can solve problems the way humans do. With intelligent machines enabling high level cognitive processes like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision making, coupled with advances in data collection and aggregation, analytics and computer processing power, AI presents opportunities to complement and supplement human intelligence and enrich the way people live and work.

 

  • The term was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy at the Dartmouth conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • It encompasses everything from robotic process automation to actual robotics.
  • Recently it has become widely popular and gained prominence due to its multifaceted application ranging from healthcare to military devices.
  • AI is a constellation of technologies that enable machines to act with higher levels of intelligence and emulate the human capabilities of sense, comprehend and act.
  • The natural language processing and inference engines can enable AI systems to analyse and understand the information collected.

 

Applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Self-driving Cars: Advances in artificial intelligence have brought us very close to making the decades-long dream of autonomous driving a reality. AI algorithms are one of the main components that enable self-driving cars to make sense of their surroundings, taking in feeds from cameras installed around the vehicle and detecting objects such as roads, traffic signs, other cars, and people.

Digital assistants and smart speakers: Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant use artificial intelligence to transform spoken words to text and map the text to specific commands. AI helps digital assistants make sense of different nuances in spoken language and synthesize human-like voices.

Translation: For many decades, translating text between different languages was a pain point for computers. But deep learning has helped create a revolution in services such as Google Translate. To be clear, AI still has a long way to go before it masters human language, but so far, advances are spectacular.

Facial recognition: Facial recognition is one of the most popular applications of artificial intelligence. It has many uses, including unlocking your phone, paying with your face, and detecting intruders in your home. But the increasing availability of facial-recognition technology has also given rise to concerns regarding privacy, security, and civil liberties.

Medicine: From detecting skin cancer and analyzing X-rays and MRI scans to providing personalized health tips and managing entire healthcare systems, artificial intelligence is becoming a key enabler in healthcare and medicine. AI won’t replace your doctor, but it could help to bring about better health services, especially in underprivileged areas, where AI-powered health assistants can take some of the load off the shoulders of the few general practitioners who have to serve large populations.

Agriculture Sector: AI can be used to predict advisories for sowing, pest control, input control can help in ensuring increased income and providing stability for the agricultural community. Image classification tools combined with remote and local sensed data can bring a revolutionary change in utilization and efficiency of farm machinery, in areas of weed removal, early disease identification, produce harvesting and grading.

Business Sector: To take care of highly repetitive tasks Robotic process automation is applied which perform faster and effortlessly than humans. Further, Machine learning algorithms are being integrated into analytics and CRM platforms to provide better customer service. Chatbots being used into the websites to provide immediate service to customers. Automation of job positions has also become a talking point among academics and IT consultancies such as Gartner and Forrester.

Education Sector: AI can make some of the educational processes automated such as grading, rewarding marks etc. therefore giving educators more time. Further, it can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI may change where and how students learn, perhaps even replacing some teachers.

Financial Sector: It can be applied to the personal finance applications and could collect personal data and provide financial advice. In fact, today software trades more than humans on the Wall Street.

Legal Sector: Automation can lead to faster resolution of already pending cases by reducing the time taken while analyzing cases thus better use of time and more efficient processes.

Manufacturing sector: Robots are being used for manufacturing since a long time now; however, more advanced exponential technologies have emerged such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing) which with the help of AI can revolutionize the entire manufacturing supply chain ecosystem.

Intelligent Robots: Robots can perform the tasks given by a human because of sensors to detect physical data from the real world such as light, heat, temperature, movement, sound, bump, and pressure. Moreover, they have efficient processors, multiple sensors and huge memory, to exhibit intelligence. Further, they are capable of learning from their errors and therefore can adapt to the new environment.

Gaming: AI has a crucial role in strategic games such as chess, poker, tic-tac-toe, etc., where the machine can think of a large number of possible positions based on heuristic knowledge.

Cyber Security: In the 20th conference on e-governance in India it was discussed that AI can provide more teeth to cyber security and must be explored.

Smart Cities and Infrastructure: Use of AI to monitor patronage and accordingly control associated systems such as pavement lighting, park maintenance and other operational conditions could lead to cost savings while also improving safety and accessibility.

 

Conclusion

Many experts have described the rise of automation as one of the most important economic and social developments in history. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has characterized it as the fulcrum of a 4th Industrial Revolution. Moreover, the economist Andrew McAfee said, “Digital technologies are doing for human brainpower what the steam engine and related technologies did for human muscle power during the Industrial Revolution. They’re allowing us to overcome many limitations rapidly and to open up new frontiers with unprecedented speed. It’s a very big deal. But how exactly it will play out is uncertain.”

 

It may cause unemployment, unease in the mindset of masses, and even social conflict at many conflicts at many reasons. In the short run, it is very difficult to predict who will get the most of the benefits however better policy guidelines, better regulations, and social security measures will essentially bring overall goodness to the society.


 

Topic:  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

7) Throw light on the significance of road development in restructuring India’s infrastructure scenario. Discuss while suggesting way forward to handle the current issues.(250 words)

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Why this question:

Recently, After a robust FY19—the year preceding general elections—the pace of activity has slowed down. Year till date in FY20, a mere 500km of road projects have been awarded, raising doubts about NHAI’s ability to fulfil the targeted 7,000-8,000km for the year.

Key demand of the question:

One has to discuss the significance of road development in restructuring India’s infrastructure scenario.

Directive:

DiscussThis is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief narrate the importance of Road as a key transport infrastructure.

Body:

Discuss the significance of road infrastructure and its contributions to the development of the economy.

Explain the issues associated in road development.

How can these issues be addressed?

Suggest solutions to overcome these challenges.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting suitable solutions and way ahead.

Ans:

  • India’s GDP growth rate slowed down to 5 per cent in Q1 of FY20 and is expected to be around 6 per cent or below in this financial year.
  • As former Reserve Bank of India governor Y V Reddy mentioned recently, a combination of cyclical and structural factors have been responsible for the slowdown.
  • Global uncertainties have added to the problem.
  • In the last few weeks, the government has announced several measures to improve both consumption and investment in different sectors and for the economy as a whole.
  • The announcement of reduction in corporate tax rates announced recently may help in reviving the sentiments of the private sector but the tax revenue may also decline and put pressure on fiscal deficit. But, these measures alone may not help in getting higher growth.

 

Structural issues to be tackled- We need to focus on three structural issues:

 Physical infrastructure development, Raising human capital and  Revival of rural economy for a long-term growth of 7 to 8 per cent and attaining $5 trillion economy by 2024.

 

Infrastructure Development-

  • Spending on infrastructure will have multiplier effects in the overall economy including stimulating private investment, aggregate demand and jobs.
  • Construction sector was an important source of job creation during 2004-05 to 2011-12. This sector has to be revived in order to create growth and employment.
  • The government seems to be fast tracking public capex, encouraging public sector enterprises (PSEs) to invest more and trying to clear the pending bills for the corporate sector and MSMEs.
  • The announcement of Rs 100 lakh crore over five years for infrastructure by the government is an important measure.
  • The Vijay Kelkar committee’s recommendation on PPPs would be useful. The private sector’s role is equally important.

 

Raising human capital for higher growth:

  • Health and education achievements are essential for human capital. Yet the country’s progress on both these aspects leaves much to be desired
  • The Niti Aayog says that only 3 per cent of Indian workers have formal skill training compared to 70 to 80 per cent in other countries.
  • Promotion of technology and knowledge economy will add to growth. One can’t have a “demographic dividend” for growth with low human capital.
  • Women’s labour participation rates have been low and declining. Raising women’s human capital and participation rates can improve economic growth.
  • We may also not achieve high human capital and productivity with 40 per cent of our children suffering from malnutrition.

 

Revival of rural economy:

  • 70 per cent of our population lives in rural areas and has stagnant incomes and wages.
  • There is a need for revival of the rural economy with infrastructure investment and structural reforms.
  • Agricultural marketing reforms should be a priority.
  • For better price discovery, agriculture has to go beyond farming and develop value chains comprising farming, wholesaling, warehousing, logistics, processing and retailing.
  • Agricultural exports should be promoted with various policies. Similarly, rural infrastructure and water management are other priorities.
  • Stimulus and structural reforms can raise farmers’ prices and wages and rise in demand for manufacturing and services.